it’s alive!! the “frank-en-idea”

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it’s alive!! the “frank-en-idea”

It’s amazing the things you remember… and that sometimes pop up in the brain at the weirdest times. I was just sitting here, thinking about what to write with all the necessary preparations in place: Laptop? Check. Music? Check. Adult Beverage? Check.

…then nothing.

What to write about? I’m sure I had a bunch of good ideas flowing in my head literally minutes ago, when I first said to myself “OK DK, time to write.”

Now….. ziltch.

But then, everything started snapping into place. iTunes started off my “ah-ha” moment with a little Warren Zevon and “Werewolves of London“… that (of course) brought me to thinking when I was a kid, WAAAAAY back in the day in Scranton, PA when I used to look forward to a crazy local TV show on WNEP called Uncle Ted’s Ghoul School (a shiny quarter to anyone who remembers that show! Man, it was so low-fi but as a little one it was fantastic!) Uncle Ted introduced a double feature of classic horror movies and also performed funny little magic tricks (all in a signature red Fez hat… I know, TV gold. TV. Gold.).. but I remembered, that is where I first saw movies like “American Werewolf in London”.. and that got me thinking about Frankenstein.

And that brings me here. (Did you arrive okay? I know that was a bit squirrelly. Take a second and rest………….)  To that amazing moment when you see how disparate, unconnected ideas sometimes lead to wonderful, connected concepts and ideas.

I call them “Frank-en-ideas.” (or Franken-dea’s.. don’t know yet… patent pending.)

Some of the best ideas don’t come from a single sit-down where you say “Create an idea.” At least for me, some of those cool thoughts are built over time… and space (no not Star Trek space “the final frontier” stuff.. space, like a place to be).  I think there is a definite connection that often happens between “idea parts” cobbled together from different spaces and places. A tune. A conversation topic. An image. Someone saying a buzz word. A sound. A smell.

These component alone, might be good.. but combined with others.. and boom. Nice work Doctor.. It’s Alive!

But to have this happen, I think you need to give yourself the opportunity to get these juices flowin’ and then a way to connect these dots. So, here are some suggestions to build that “Frank-en-Idea” you might realize:

1. An Idea Spot. — Be sure you have a notebook, a bar napkin from one of your favorite places to “invest in refreshment management”, a note app on your iPhone/Blackberry/Android, whatever… just have at the ready a place to collect those pop-up ideas to come throughout the day.

2. Remember “Risk-The Game” — Whenever you played Risk, the idea was simple: build your armies and take over the world. But to accomplish this, you needed to see the whole board. Who’s coming from where. Who is massing their forces in the corner that is “Australia” or who is capturing that crazy land bridge between Irkutsk and Alaska. You needed to see the big board.  Periodically step back from an initial one-shot idea and check how it looks when viewed from the world-view (aka, broaden it out to see what comes into focus, if anything.)

3. Mad Men, baby. Mad Men. — Like the drunks in that ad agency, be sure to “pitch” yourself periodically. Test the value of these ideas by giving yourself a chance to put it together in a presentation to yourself. Take 3 minutes and say “Ok you… sell this idea to me.” See where’s the gaps are, what are the holes. Then….

4. Be a Swiss Cheese Hater. — Fill those holes! What’s missing? Is it another idea? Or is it more a logistically thing (“Yeah you. That’s a great concept, but I have no idea if Transporters like on the USS Enterprise will be online and ready by the time “Tyler’s Teleportation Pizza Delivery” franchises would be up and running.”) .. challenge yourself to be the best critic and nay-sayer… plus it’s good practice to get ready for when…

5. Convene Your Focus Group. — This is easy. Tell a couple of friends “Hey, I have extra food and beer. Wanna come by?” When they get there, voila! Instant Focus Group! Give them your idea or concept and take a temperature in the room… then swear them to secrecy or patent pending legal forms so that beer glass/digital camera combo prototype does fall into the wrong hands (I’m looking at you, Canadian spies embedded in the US).

6. Yikes! And AWAY!!!! — Jump out. Do it. Get it going and start sketching out the Five W’s (who, what, where, when, and why) and see where it takes you. There will be impasses… maybe a few blocking your way… but get out there and swing it!

Frank-en-Ideas can allow your creativity, interests, passions, and pure fun to co-mingle and build out.  Whether your looking to start a new business, solve a project question, plan an event… or even develop plan to take over the world…. don’t be afraid to stitch together some little guys to form a monster bad mama-jama one!

Now if you would excuse me, I have some cheese to fill in… with idea-goodness. ~DK

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the most hated four-letter word: “status quo.”

Do not enter signBoy, am i terrible at “the math.”

Too often these two words are combined in debate/discussion/some other “d-word” to be a literal buzzkill to creativity. We speak about “get action” – well this thing goes the other way and “get brick wall to the forehead.”  And here is the worst part about this naughty phrase:

We are all at fault and responsible for it…. yes, you too over there on your laptop shaking your head.

Many of us talk a great game and use words like “innovation” and “idea exchange” and “paradigm shift” when describe ourselves, our vision, or even our organizations. But here’s what happens: nothing. or barely nothing. Life kicks back in, reality shines its light upon us like a security guard walking a dark hallway. we say some great things… and then we stop and go back to the status quo.

Funny enough, we don’ t even mean to do it. Most of us truly want to innovate or exchange ideas. It is just when we snap back into our rhythm, those opposing forces are embedded in our day-to-day; and that always seems to gum up the works to launch something truly new.  You have seen this. You go to a membership organization meeting (like an elks lodge or rotary luncheon). A dynamic speaker or community leader stands up front and begins to dazzle your sense of possibility. She amazes you by challenge the “what is” and envisions a “what can be” and you feel the creative meter getting full… you are ready to make that impact, you are ready to shift gears…

Then the rubber chicken arrives, you notice the time, and head out of Conference Room A to get back to the office because you need to sit in on that development meeting – you know, the one where no one comes prepared to do anything, and no one has anything to say worth the price of admission. Business As Usual.


Remember, they won “Best New Artist” … and then fell off the Earth.

Yep, status quo just jumped up and bit ya again.

And when I say we are all at fault, I mean all of us…. with very few exceptions. It. Just. Happens.

But why? Why does it happen. (Here’s where I tick off some friends.)

Fear. You are afraid of going it alone. Innovation requires that someone/something goes it alone for some portion of time. It may be seconds, it may be years. But there is always a constant: a set time frame where you might be out on the edge by your lonesome. And that’s scary That’s unsafe. That’s unprotected.

Cowardly. Understandable, but cowardly.

Status quo allows for people to stay in the herd, fly straight, and hope that others come to the scene to build momentum so that you can come along for the ride. Status quo protects folks by allowing for awful phrases like “we’ll see how this plays out” or “let’s take the temperature of the room first”  and the greatest kick-me-below-the-belt-before-saying-this-to-me-ever-again phrase “but we’ve always done it this way” before an action is taken. Status quo banks on your hesitancy. Thrives on it.

Now you’re saying: Risk can’t be a constant thing. Stability and familiarity are good things, aren’t they?

Yes…however, when we are representing ourselves as innovators and change agents, then we must start acting like them. Convening “committees” and organizing talks to inspire are good, but it’s in the next steps – that’s where the leaders lead. That’s the sweet spot. That’s where we “get action.”

I speak for a living and connect with organizations, nonprofits, business leaders, community activists, and government officials. All come from strong places of wanting to do wonderful things. I never question someone’s intent or where their hearts are on issues surrounding community and economic development. But we need to “get action” – too many “meetings”, not enough “meet ups with sleeves up.”

we_have_always_done_it_this_wayAnd P.S… No saint here. I am just to blame in this hypocrisy. I need to step out and keep a-steppin’ more and more. We at Connect The Dots Movement say “we believe innovation begins by kicking the ass of intimidation.

Welp, Mr. “Status Quo”…. I think you and me need to step outside, pal…


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time for a S-T-R-E-T-C-H.


Feel the Burn. I call this “Stuck in Place And Need A Hand”

“Measure Twice, Cut Once.”  I use this phrase more often than an NSA official uses the phrase “Can you hear me now, Verizon?” (sorry Mr. President, but really…oh, and for those of you monitoring me, I was just kidding about the whole NSA/Verizon tapping thing I just mentioned).

I have been known to be “that guy” who ramps into cool, innovative ideas.. but then asks to hit the brakes and slow down.  Prep work before busy work. Getting it right, to be sure you get it right.

But there’s my other side… the side that wants to just GO GO GO… especially when, as Tin Cup told us, a feeling of when a “tuning fork goes off in your heart.”

You KNOW it’s good to go. You’re READY. But your calmer half hits pause for the cause. “Wait,” he says. “Be patient.”

Screw patience.

Sometimes the sense for a need for calm and a calculated decision sounds right.. but isn’t. You need to stretch, damn the torpedoes, and get a-rollin’! The sense of immediacy, the sense of vitality that washes over you on one of these power decisions (Let’s do this!) is pretty remarkable, positive, and daring.

Now, Mr. Risk Management Guy/Girl reading this, easy does it. I’m not suggesting strategic planning and monster decisions should be based on a “YEEE-HAAA” and a hop on the nearest missile to launch. What I am suggesting it that the idea of “paralysis by analysis” is real. And too often, it is certain moments like this that slide our trajectory  ever so slightly… and change a great idea into a kind-of-good one. Still a victory… but not one of those “tuning forks goes off in your heart” ones.

It is in the nature of many of us to be either one or the other. You know these friends. The one who is so impulsive you wonder how she ever finds her way home because you are convinced that between you seeing her and her walking away, she will decide to fly to Cuba. Or that buddy of yours that is so painstakingly slow that you need to tell him about the weekend plans on Monday, just so he can decide if he’s in or out… the mix of these friends and personality types gives us our amazing friendship circles, and makes events and everyday hanging out so much fun.

But for YOU. For you and your direction in life, in business, in so many other decisions… allow for times of impulse.  I see the need for these moments especially in those idea sessions and brainstorming (dare I say, an “Idea Break?”)… turn your ideas loose and see what happens.

For example, I was pitching a client idea for a campaign. Almost immediately into the initial tick-tock of the basics, a lone voice popped up announcing “that’s too big and too expensive for what we have here.”  He was probably right, and truthfully, the idea of a tad too big for the immediate moment of the organization… that is until I continued and positioned how a campaign like this can be done in stages, where it isn’t a “hit the home run” kind of approach; but rather a plan for “singles and doubles” to reach the eventual endpoint… and that it could be done, with a little boldness and passion toward the end vision. Guard dropped, everyone allowed for their personal passion and belief in what a campaign like that could be, to be thrown over any analytical choke-point.. and a plan emerged. Stretched with passion and drive… not with worry or doubt.steal2_keep1st

Impulsiveness isn’t the greatest of qualities all the time, but confidence in one’s abilities to launch a project with passion and drive is something else. There will forever be fear of the unknown, a fear of failure. But I feel a greater fear: when I notice that an idea of mine never moved past the initial thought; and then I see it pop up somewhere else.. and that drives my batty.  It’s time to let your skills and passion run wild every so often.  Project feels too daunting? Stretch out and get into it.  Feel like you want to start a hobby but don’t feel like you have the time? Dare yourself to budget your hours more wisely.  Worried that a pitch for business is far beyond your reach? Double down, build that kick-ass presentation, and knock the socks off the big boys in the room.

How will you know when you are able to do this? Easy. Grab a mirror and ask yourself this…. “Am I ready to stretch?”

Then get to it, Plastic Man.


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